Tag Archives: praying

Sometimes God says…No

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“Praise the Lord for answered prayer”

I have heard this so many times in my life, and I have often typed / said those same words when I heard about something miraculous that my God did in my life, or in the life of someone I know.  My God is in the business of miracles.  He never fails.  He CAN’T fail.  God is perfect.  A few years ago, my youth group engaged in a Character of God study and it was truly fascinating.  I have long known that God is perfect, but what does that perfection look like?  Among many things that describe his character, his omniscience is one of my favorite.

He is Omniscient

God knows all things.  He encompasses all knowledge – ever.  Seems pretty simple.  He knows all.  But looking a little deeper we truly understand what that means.  Psalm 147:4-5 talks about  God knowing every single star and calling them each by name.  How many stars are we talking.  According to a quick google search, an Australian study, a few years back, claimed that we can observe about 70,000 million million million stars.  (7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).  Perspective?  That’s more than all the grains of sand on all the beaches in the world.  He knows them each by name.  Not only does he know everything, but he knows everything about me.  God knows every single cell, every single hair, every single thought  (scary to fathom), he knows it ALL.  He also knows exactly how I fit into his perfect plan.  Not just his perfect plan for me, but His PERFECT PLAN.  He can see how all the pieces fit together, and because of that, he knows the perfect answer to make sure the puzzle comes together.

So when I think of God answering prayers, I have to admit that his answer isn’t always going to be what I want to hear.  I can only see a small fraction of the puzzle, which is my life and all that is in that life.  I am human and I pray for what I want.  I have been saved by the grace of Jesus Christ and through that salvation, I have the holy spirit living in my heart, directing me in my prayer life and so forth, but I can pray for what I want.  I am selfish.  I will almost always choose to pray and ask God for those things that I think will make my life better.

Why am I going down this road?  Well, my family is in the middle of a trial.  My 11 year-old son developed a swollen lymph node that wouldn’t go away after antibiotics and time.  Almost three months after it showed up, he was sitting in a surgeons office talking about next steps, when the doctor said the words lymphoma or leukemia.  As parents, I don’t know any worse words for a living child than the possibility of cancer.  Over the next couple days we researched, and prayed.  Two days later, he had a biopsy of the lymph node and we helplessly watched him be as tough as he could while they obtained core samples.  Then it was time to wait.  We were told it may be as long as a week or so to get the pathology report back.  That waiting time is agonizing.  You can’t keep your mind from going to the worst case scenarios and you stress and stress and you PRAY.

Today we learned that the initial testing revealed no abnormal cells, no cancer.  A moment of elation, we breathed again.  There are follow-up things and second opinions, but the initial prognosis looks great.  That is what triggered this reflection today.  I got the answer, to my prayer, that I wanted.  But if I truly believe in God, and I truly want to submit to His will and plan, I have to be ready to accept a no answer in my prayer life.  Even for things as serious as this, I have to be alright with no.  I can tell you that in the past few days, I have experienced a deeper sense of “I can’t do this alone”.  God has humbled me and helped me see there is more to life than what I was letting in and what I was taking part in.  I won’t always get it right, but I see that spending a few more minutes with my kids is more important than a few more minutes with a report.  Truly spending quality quiet time with God is more important than rushing through it.

It’s easy to write this today, because God answered yes.  But I have to realize that God always answers yes as it fits into His plan.  He loves me and he’ll never leave me or let me down.  He can’t fail me, He is perfect.  What may seem like a no through my small vision, is always a yes when looking through the eyes of the Father.

God, today I praise you and thank you for your blessings in my life.  I thank you for the opportunity to know you each day.  I thank you that you are a personal God and while all-knowing and ever-present, you never forget the little details, you never miss any opportunity to be in direct fellowship with your creation.  I thank you for helping me to remember each day that you have this and I don’t have to try to handle things.  Thank you for bringing me to a deeper trust in you and your plan.  I pray for continued good news regarding my son and that through this I’ll be able to show him how we are to depend on you and how we can trust you with our entire life.  In your name I pray, Amen.

 

 

Leave it all behind

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“I have what you need…but you keep on searching”

“I’ve done all the work, but you keep on working”

“You’re running on empty and can’t seem to find the remedy…just come to the well”

Just a few of the lyrics from a popular Casting Crowns song – Come to the Well.  I listen to that song almost every morning, it’s on my running playlist for the gym.  Not really the “pump-you-up” type of tune, but very special to me.  I struggle, more often than I care to admit, with trying to “work” my way into God’s grace.  What can I do?  Who can be?  When the reality of this life is that God’s grace is sufficient and He has done all the work already.  He simply asks us to fill ourselves with Him.  Do what I do, and you’ll be doing right.  That’s the message, yet it seems like a foreign language to me sometimes.  When I get into that rut of trying to do it all my way, on my own without any “filling from the word” I ultimately end up in a place where it’s dark, my soul seems empty and I am sinning more than I’m living.

So how do we avoid that rut, how do we avoid running back to the same broken wells that offer no real hope and can never fill our soul the way that a “right relationship with God” can?  I think the answer to that question is two-fold.

First, most sinful thought and behavior is hidden.  No one wants to air their dirty laundry.  Think about that for a moment.  What if our browsing history, or even worse, all our thoughts for the day were displayed on a billboard on the main highway?  I know I would be mortified.  I think most people would, especially those that have fallen into that repetitive cycle of habitual sin.  So what is the cure for that?  Live each day as if that is exactly what is going to happen.  Live your life so that what is put on that billboard isn’t so terrifying and humiliating.  Even better, place your focus on God’s word and his plan and use that billboard to sing his praises.

That leads to the next point.  What are we filling our heart and mind with?  I heard a message once about starving our spirit.  Basically, we have to treat our inward being as living and breathing just like our physical outward being.  If we don’t eat or quench our thirst, we would surely shrivel up and cease to exist.  The same is true of our inward being…our soul.  The best diet for our soul is none other than Gods’s word.  He even tells us to store up his word in our heart so that we can keep from sinning against him. (Psalm 119:11).  That’s like taking a snack with you to keep “full” throughout the day.  When we are daily feasting on God’s word, we will be filled with his presence and desires.  Will the sinful temptation still be there?  Sure it will, but we have a much better chance of walking away from it and keeping our focus on Christ when we aren’t spiritually starving.
Habitual sin and habitually putting God on the back burner are dangerous things.  When a sin becomes so common place that you stop feeling guilty about it or even worse, begin to justify it, it is a deep rooted path for Satan to tear away at your entire life and all those in it.  Leave it all behind and walk in the light of God’s word.  It is in our relationship with God and His word that we will find victory over our sinful nature.

Lord, today I come to you broken and afraid of the sin patter in my life.  I have often spoken these words only to find myself unable to walk away and do what I know is right. Forgive me for forgetting what you have made simple and clear – your word.  I pray that today I would fill my soul with your truths and that I would make that my habitual pattern to feast on your word and focus on your glory.  In Christ I pray, Amen.

Psalms 19:12-13 (NLT) – Cleanse me from these hidden faults.  Keep your servant from deliberate sins!  Don’t let them control me.

 

The Prayer Wall

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While decorating our daughter’s new room, we scoured the internet for cool ideas. Everything from paint schemes, to play areas, to organizers, etc.  A new trend that is sweeping through our home decorating world is the idea of “chalk-board” paint.  You can now buy this special paint blend at your local paint supplier, put a couple coats on a normal wall, and you have an instant chalkboard.  Since Abigail is 4 years old, and just starting Pre-K, we thought, what a great idea.  She could practice writing her letters and numbers on her chalk board wall.  After a little thinking and discussion, we opted to use her sliding closet doors as our chalkboard project.  The end result…fabulous.  With nearly a half full can left, we started looking around for other “chalk-board” projects.  That’s when we decided we could have an information area in our home – grocery wants and needs, appointments, and so on.

prayerWallSo we painted a small-wall section from floor to ceiling with the the chalk board paint, with the full intention of creating this area for family info.  About a week or so later, we were hosting an Essential Oils class at the house and in an effort (like most host’s) we were scrambling to make the house look perfect…you know like we didn’t live there or have kids and we were staring at this blank “black” wall.  We came to realize, we don’t really have a lot of info to write on an entire wall.  So, the idea popped into my head…what if we made a prayer wall?  It was really just for decoration, but the Lord moved..,as he usually does.  After several comments by our guests, we took another look and thought, why not?

What has this done for our family?  It is a constant reminder that we should spend quality time bringing our fears, concerns, requests and praises to our Father in Heaven.  This wall is a focal point in our home.  You see it when you walk down the hallway, when you come up from the basement, and when you enter from the front door.  Each time I pass the wall, I find myself reflecting on the need of the person that is listed there and lifting up a quick silent prayer on their behalf.  Now, without hesitation we quickly write the names as we learn of the need.  The kids are in to it as well.  Several times, they have mentioned one or more of the names in their meal time prayers, or asked about a name on the wall.

It’s a quick, cheap, easy way to get your family to focus a little more on daily prayer.  And of course, as an adult, it is a lot of fun to “write on the wall”.  A total “no-no” when were growing up.

How to live…today

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One of the biggest arguments I hear often is that we are not living in biblical times, so why should the bible be the road map that guides our thoughts and actions?  “The Bible doesn’t apply now”.  And there is a lot of truth to that, I think.   There are many parts of the Bible that aren’t applicable, but not because we have evolved as a society of people, more educated and with greater insight.  If anything, we have become  less educated when you look at the grand scheme of things.  Life is complicated now, more so than I can ever remember, and it is mostly driven by this overwhelming push to be PC (politically correct).

But back to the thought – the Bible’s “rules” or teachings aren’t applicable. What I am getting at is that you have to study and look at the context of the old laws and “rules”.  Some categorize the laws into three divisions: ceremonial, civic, and moral.  Using that approach you would define ceremonial laws as laws that applied to ancient Israel under the old covenant – before Christ.  These dealt with the blood sacrifices, what to eat, what to wear, etc. and were mostly in place to point to the need for a savior, and as a way for Israel to remember what God did for them in delivering them.  The civic laws revolved around a theocracy system that was in place as the rule of the land during biblical times.  We don’t live under that type of rule any longer.  Finally, the moral laws were universal and unchanging.   These laws were based on God’s Holy character and thus are the most obvious for today as we (Christians) are called to live a life that reflects Christ and God’s holiness.

Now that was a very quick and shallow summary of one way to look at how the Bible applies today.  Is that the be all, probably not.  My point in this rambling is that the confusion over what is right and what is not right when it comes to applying biblical principles is not an easy thing to figure out and requires diligent study and constant prayer.  I think that is a key design to how God’s word is delivered to us today.  God doesn’t want us to skim over it, get the jist and move o n.  His word is His communication with us today.  That’s how we know his holiness, and how we begin to understand his character.  I think all the laws (in context) are still applicable.  Maybe not as a right vs. wrong in all cases, but most of the laws had some connection to how awesome our God is and how much he loves us.

So, how do I live today?  I live in reverence to the same  God that delivered the ancient Israel nation from the oppression of  Egypt.  I live in submission to His will, and in obedience to daily communicate with Him through prayer and study of His word.  I will live as a reflection of Him to the best of my ability and let His love shine through me to a lost world.  I will live for the opportunity to share the gospel message of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ with anyone that is willing to hear it.  Finally, I will live with a love that encompasses peace, humility, kindness, gentleness, patience and compassion toward my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Today’s Reading: Colossians 3:12-17

What am I praying for?

ddSo many times, when I read through the word of God, I try to keep my mind on the the “theme” that is usually indicated at the top of the passage (in my NIV).  Today’s scripture reading was Ephesians 1:15-19.  It was highlighted as Thanksgiving and Prayer.  So, my natural thought was this will be about giving thanks and a prayer about that.  While that is true of this section, I felt something different come out of it.  In this passage, Paul is building up the believers in Ephesus.  He is giving them a pep talk so to speak.  Well, he gave me one too.

What am I praying for?  Often times, I find my prayer life to be focused on making sure I mention everyone and everything on my heart and then just leaving it at that.  I have full faith that God hears my prayers and that He loves me and that He will answer my prayers according to his perfect plan and will.  Check.  Got that.  But this passage opened up my heart to how confident I am in the big picture.  I am speaking to the creator of the universe.  To the one that has no beginning and end.  He is more powerful than anything that has ever been or will ever be.  My study notes mentioned that the atom is the most powerful particle in the universe.  We fear its potential, we have seen in history the possible devastation through the atomic bomb.  Yet, I am speaking and praying to the one that spoke the atom into existence.  Didn’t create…but spoke it into being.  God is powerful.

I should not walk through this life with fear and uncertainty.  I will from time to time, because I am not perfect, but my prayer should be for the boldness and assurance found in the hope of Jesus Christ.  I want to be more like Christ.  I want to follow His perfect example recorded in the gospels.  I want to look more like Christ in my daily walk, everyday.  I want to come to the father in prayer in the same way He did, with total reverence for who He is and in total confidence that He will be faithful to hear my heartfelt prayer and work all things for the good in my life.

The bonus…cherry on top, if you will, in this passage was to see how God views me.  Because I have the hope of Christ sealed in my heart and God’s assurance through the Holy spirit, I can know I am his.  Guess what?  He is looking forward to his inheritance, which is me and all of his children that have put their faith and hope in the finished work of Christ.  I am His inheritance.  Praise God that He loves us so much.

Further reading: Ephesians 1:15-19